Low sulphur fuel in prospect for Germany

Industry, NGO alliance says cleaner diesel, petrol should be brought in with greater fiscal incentives

An unusual alliance of the German car industry, motoring organisations and NGOs has called for the introduction of fuels with a lower sulphur content than required by European legislation, with the help of fiscal incentives greater than those currently envisaged by the German government.

The group includes the German environmental fund raising organisation (DUH), the German League for Nature and Environment (DNR), the German automobile club (ADAC) and the association of car manufacturers (VDA). Friends of the Earth Germany (Bund) and the Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD), although not part of the alliance, support the demands.

The VCD say that the proposal is to reduce sulphur to 50 parts per million (ppm) from 1 January 2000 followed by only 10 ppm in 2001. Mineral oil tax should be reduced making low sulphur fuels euros 0.025 or 0.03 (5 or 6 pfennigs) cheaper than current ones.

The organisations say the UK, Finland and Sweden are examples of how quickly low sulphur fuel can be introduced. The UK mineral oil association (UKPIA) told ENDS Daily that ultra low sulphur diesel (ulsd) sold in Britain has average sulphur levels of 30-40ppm and market penetration is approaching 100%.

The German government proposal, to be discussed by the cabinet at the end of August, is to increase mineral oil tax on existing fuel by euros 0.01 and to reduce it on low sulphur fuel by euros 0.005 in November 2001.

Under the EU directive on fuel quality, member states must reduce sulphur levels to 350ppm in diesel and 150ppm in petrol by 2000 and to 50ppm in both fuels by 2005 ({ENDS Daily 30 June 1998}) but may introduce fiscal incentives to speed up introduction.

A German oil industry association (MWV) spokesperson told ENDS Daily that the industry would have to adjust to lower sulphur levels if European legislation required them. There was a German government initiative to change the current European directive reducing sulphur levels further to 10ppm. In the meantime, he said, the industry had undertaken to reduce sulphur in 98 octane super petrol to 50ppm from January 2000 and to make all grades of petrol and diesel available country-wide with only 50ppm sulphur by January 2001.

A spokesperson for European oil industry association, Europia, told ENDS Daily that it would welcome a cooperative programme to see what sulphur levels were required by the car industry ({ENDS Daily 5 June 1998}). She questioned whether the new proposal was the optimal solution for reducing emissions for the European consumer.

Follow Up:
VCD, tel: +49 228 985 8523; DUH, tel: +49 7732 99 950; UKPIA, tel: +44 171 240 0289; MVW, tel: +49 40 24 84 90.

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